Camiel Fortgens started his label upon graduating from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2014. Having studied Industrial Design, his sensibilities are in his words "untarnished by the rules of fashion" allowing him to look at things from more of an outsider's perspective--in essence, everything is fair game and none of the old rules apply. In lieu of trend-driven clothing, Camiel Fortgens' edge-of-fashion practice leads to garments that read as artistic proto-clothing riffs on archetypical/timeless garments. Not so much deconstructed but wholly re-constructed, every stitchline and edge is reconsidered, the idea of fit is remixed, the inherent gender in garments is subverted, and how things are put together is turned entirely on its head.
It all comes down to rethinking the idea of the clothing, a tenet reflected in the rough sketches that are included sometimes at the end of product pages. In an odd reversal of the creative process, the drawings aren't there as just a way to get initial ideas down. Instead, the clothes reference the actual visual qualities of the drawings. Early on, in AW15, edges of garments were stitched together with seam allowances outside to create 'flat' impressions of clothes on the body. Since then, Fortgens has evolved this sketch <-> garment relationship with increasing nuance and refinement. Carefully placed raw edges with trailing yarns and intentionally wobbly stitching mimic the imprecise lines drawn by a hand just sure enough to get them down. Oversized cuts and structured linings make the fabric jut in and out when worn, with silhouettes that fit like the blocky irregular 2D drawn shapes. Most everything is unisex and hybridized--coats are extended into dresses with pleats added, suit jackets are fully lined in hardy cotton twill with the structure making them look more like chore jackets. The refusal to create conventional clothes and silhouettes diverts attention away from the body. On behalf of the wearer Camiel Fortgens says 'My body isn't normal and whose is?" So the clothes don't reflect an imposed sense of normalcy but are cut a level of abstraction away from ourselves. For the wearer, they can take solace in the fact that their own shape as they wear the clothes is rendered as a caricature, and that maybe they can imagine inhabiting the same space as the sketches that are scrawled as shaky lines on paper.